Our Marikana mining operations have been able to maintain production despite the headwinds of industrial relations, Section 54 safety stoppages and community unrest. I believe this reflects the healthy technical state of the business and the team’s competency.
The total impact of the Section 54 Safety shutdowns was 347,000 tonnes in lost production across all operations including the joint venture, compared to 70,000 tonnes in the 2011 half year. The frequency of stoppages and losses in tonnage was quite marked, particularly in January when around 100,000 tonnes of production were lost. Following some high level dialogue across all levels of the DMR around the end of January, losses have subsequently fallen to lower levels.
We incurred an additional 48,000 and 69,000 tonnes of lost production as a result of management induced safety stoppages, and community and labour unrest at our operations respectively.
Production statistics for the second quarter of the year can be found in a separate announcement published today.
Underground milled head grade fell to 4.48 grammes per tonne in the first half of 2012 from 4.56 grammes per tonne in the prior year period as a result of an increase in the overall contribution of Merensky ore to the mix. The overall head grade for the same period including open cast however, increased by 1.8% from 4.34 grammes per tonne to 4.42 grammes per tonne as a result of an increase in the opencast grade and a decrease in opencast ore in the mix. The Merensky:UG2 mix is now 27%, up from 23% in the prior year period. Overall we are comfortable, that given our current mining mix, the current grade is in line with expectations.
We continue to make progress in improving our ore reserve position and immediately available ore reserves at Marikana at the end of the first half of the 2012 financial year were 3.1 million centares compared to 2.9 million centares at the end of the 2011 financial year and 2.8 million centares at 31 March 2011. This represents around 19 months of current production and supports Lonmin’s capacity growth strategy.
Overall production at our operations of 5.8 million tonnes for the period, compared to 5.9 million tonnes for the prior year period has been satisfactory.
Total underground tonnes mined from the Marikana operations were relatively flat at 5.5 million compared to the first half of 2011. The greatest contribution was made by Karee which mined 2.5 million tonnes compared to 2.2 million in the same period last year, despite losing 90,000 tonnes to Section 54 safety stoppages.
Production from our Middelkraal unit, comprising of Hossy and Saffy shafts, mined 965,000 tonnes, an increase of 5% when compared against 919,000 tonnes in the prior year period. Middelkraal had one of the highest frequency of Section 54s, losing 121,000 tonnes during the six months to 31 March 2012. Saffy’s ramp up has also been slightly slower than anticipated due to poor ground conditions. We are making progress with our programme of introducing hybrid mining in some upper quadrants at Hossy, to minimise the risks of interruption to production from machine breakdowns and lack of availability of artisans. We are converting the top levels of the shaft to hybrid. The middle sections are remaining on XLP, whilst the bottom levels are being developed conventionally. Production at Hossy has increased by around 23% to 465,000 tonnes when compared to the prior year, supporting the approach taken.
At Easterns, production declined by 10% to 556,000 tonnes, mainly due to community unrest and having lost 10,000 tonnes as a result of Section 54 safety stoppages.
At Westerns, the planned decline in production at Newman shaft, and lost production due to Section 54s of 86,000 tonnes at both Newman and Rowland shafts contributed to production at Westerns falling by 12.6% from the prior year period to 1.5 million tonnes.
We continued to scale back on our production at the Merensky opencast operations as we focused on grade improvement. We produced 196,000 tonnes compared to 336,000 tonnes in the prior year period.
Underground production at Pandora, our joint venture, is increasing at a steady rate and contributed 104,000 attributable tonnes for the first half of 2012, an increase of 25.3% when compared against the prior year period. Lonmin purchases 100% of the ore from the Pandora joint venture and this ore contributed 15,608 saleable Platinum ounces in concentrate and 29,617 saleable PGM ounces in concentrate to our production, representing increases of 40.9% and 40.3% respectively from the prior year period due to higher volumes and better grades.
We expect our production performance in the second half of 2012 to continue to be supported by increased contributions from our major shafts, K3 and Rowland as well as the continued ramping up of Saffy and Hossy shafts.Continue Back to top